Labour Suspends Strike, Panel Meets Thursday
Labour Suspends Strike, Panel Meets Thursday.
The organised labour in Nigeria yesterday suspended its industrial action, paving the way for the conclusion of negotiations on a new minimum wage on Thursday.
Labour wants N65,000 as national minimum wage, up from the current N18,000. Source in an exclusive story on Saturday had reported that the strike would terminate yesterday Sunday.
The president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba speaking in Abuja yesterday, said: “We have received a firm and formal invitation to a reconvened meeting of the tripartite committee scheduled for October 4 and 5, 2018. We demand that this shall be the final session of the committee and that a final report will be submitted to Mr. President immediately.
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“In order to avail the committee the necessary environment to hold this crucial meeting and conclude its work, organised labour has, after obtaining the mandate of their necessary organs, decided to suspend the strike action with effect from today, Sunday, September 30, 2018.”
On his part, Issa Aremu, a member of the NLC National Executive Council (NEC) and Labour Party gubernatorial candidate in Kwara State, lamented the negative impact of the devaluation of the naira on salaries. “When we agreed on the present minimum wage in 2011, it was around $110. Today, with massive devaluation of the naira, N18,000 minimum wage is about $50. There is no way Nigeria can get out of serious economic crisis with this miserably pay package,” he said.
“In the United Kingdom, which started its minimum wage in 1988 – that is clear seven years after Nigeria began hers in 1981 – there is a procedure for review without any noise made about it, because there are parameters that are put in place to review it periodically, unlike the struggle we embark upon here whenever negotiation is due.”
But an independent development consultant with a UK-funded programme in Nigeria, Dr. Mike Uzoigwe, urged government to approach the subject of wage increase cautiously. “This is not a good time to increase wage,” he said, because “it looks like the Federal Government might succumb at the end of the day or make promises to assuage labour.”
He cautioned against increasing salaries when the country is borrowing to finance its budget.
He said: “We have to address the problem of infrastructure and how we have depended on earnings from our natural resources to run the affairs of this country. We have not done it in the right way. Countries that are blessed as we are used their oil resources to build other aspects of their economy. This has not allowed them to be tied to the vagaries of oil prices at the international market.” He regretted that the oil and gas sector has given Nigeria a false sense of financial security for many years.